Frequently asked Questions

Broadband service in rural Cumbria is poor, usually slow and often nonexistent.

But an improvement is on its way!

In October 2010, Cumbria was chosen one of four ‘pilot’ areas in the country by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).

In March 2011, Cumbria County Council went out to tender for a county-wide upgrade of its broadband infrastructure and further pilots are expected to be announced shortly…

But Cumbria’s communities have a vital role to play. is a place for us to discuss these government plans, learn more about broadband, and organise ourselves to influence the process.

Communities across Cumbria have appointed Broadband Champions, set up their own websites, surveyed local residents, and in some cases, begun planning their own networks!

You can read our statement of intent here, The Eden Declaration.

And please sign up and join the debate!

If you’d like to add a question to this FAQ, please write to us ([email protected]) –  or ask it in a group.

Where is the money coming from?

The money will come from private companies, Cumbria County Council, European Union structural funds like the ERDF, and central government via BDUK.

How much money is available?

Cumbria County Council has already issued a tender for two projects worth £121m over five years, one to supply a next generation broadband network and the other IT services.

The  Council’s long term goal is to see the whole of Cumbria connected to high speed broadband, but the initial funding will not be enough to implement this across the whole county.

Who decides how it will be spent?

The work in the pilot areas are technical trials and are being led by BDUK and supported by Cumbria County Council.

What is BDUK?

BDUK stands for Broadband Delivery UK. It has been created within the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as a delivery vehicle for the government’s policies on broadband. It is staffed by civil servants and reports to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

How are communities involved?

To ensure that coverage is as close to universal as possible, communities will need to be closely involved in the planning of the network.

Communities know best about the needs of their local area. They can survey and map current broadband use and demand.

Communities are best-placed to stimulate demand. They can help friends, neighbours, local businesses and even local government to think about the benefits of superfast broadband and how to make the most of these.

Communities can help design the network. They know the local landscape better than anyone else - where there are culverts or storm drains – and they can even help negotiate concessions on wayleaves.

The  technology

What is FTTC, and why are people against it?

FTTC (also known as BT Infinity) stands for ‘Fibre to the Cabinet’ and it means connecting superfast fibre optic cable to the green boxes and exchanges of rural Cumbria. The key word is ‘Cabinet’, though – the connection to your home or office would still be a copper phone line with limited speeds, and properties far from the exchange would see little or no benefit.

What’s the alternative? Will it mean we have to run fibre optic cables to everyone’s house?

Everyone is talking about Fibre to the Premises or Home (FTTP, also known as FTTH), which means a fibre optic cable connecting your house directly to the network. However, alternatives such as Wireless broadband (as demonstrated at Ashby) and even a satellite connection are available. The important thing is that each community decide what’s best for it.

Will I have to pay more for my internet connection?

It’s likely that you would have to pay a few pounds more per month. However, it depends on the solution your community decides on.

What is ‘self-dig’?

This means that the community drives down the cost of installing the new network by helping to dig trenches for the fibre-optic cable. It’s not just spadework, though – landowners can also help by waiving wayleaves [glossary] over their land.

Is this the ‘Big Society’?

Yes. Communities are working with government and business to deliver a service that would never otherwise be affordable.

If I get a fibre-optic cable to my house, will it replace my phone line?

Yes, fibre would replace your existing phone line. However you can buy an inexpensive adapter to convert your phone for the new service. This also works for other services that require a phone line (eg Sky boxes).

Broadband Champions

What is a broadband champion?

A broadband champion is a community spokesperson and organiser who leads the campaign for better broadband in their home parish or group of parishes.

Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC) is liaising on behalf of the county with parishes.

Who is my broadband champion and how do I contact them?

Have a look on the ‘My Community’ page to see if there’s a microsite glossary already set up for your parish. Or examine our map (coming soon!).

What skills do you need to be a broadband champion?

You don’t need to be technically savvy, buy you will need time and energy, and the will to improve your parish’s broadband!

Can a broadband champion cover more than one parish?


What is a Hub Co-ordinator?

Hub co-ordinators will be go-betweens connecting the communities with the County Council. For more details see

What are microsites for?

Up to you! Some broadband champions report on parish meetings, others put up photos or advertise local events. Others use them to publish data and information.

How do I create a microsite?

Just go to the [sign up for a microsite page] and register your interest there. You will hear back within 24 hours.

I’ve never run a website before. Is it difficult to maintain a microsite?

Have a look at talkaboutlocal’s excellent tutorials on WordPress (the publishing software we use). It’s user-friendly but you need to spend a few minutes learning your way around.


Who are we?

Broadband Cumbria is owned by Cumbria Broadband Rural & Community Projects Ltd, a small non-profit set up by Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the border, to hold broadband-related events and promote broadband in Cumbria. Broadband Cumbria is run part-time by Louis and Duncan from Rory’s office with the help of dozens of volunteers across Cumbria.

And finally…

Why are you using a website to promote broadband? Surely the people you are trying to reach won’t be able to access it!

Despite the obvious limitations, we still think the internet is the best way to share information and connect people from different communities – we hope that this campaign can demonstrate that!